How to Transform Your Kindle into a German Learning Tool

1. Use the Vocabulary-building Features

With Kindle, you can look up new words quickly and easily with the built-in dictionary. When you encounter a word you do not know in the text you are reading, just press and hold and the dictionary window will pop up to explain it. If there is no entry for it in the dictionary, you have an option to search online instead.

Kindle users and language learners can also use the More Options feature in the built-in dictionary to highlight a phrase worth remembering, add a personal note or translate a word into another language that they know. It is a 3-D vocabulary-building experience, all without closing the book you are reading!

Kindle’s Vocabulary Builder is another great feature for English learners. The Vocabulary Builder contains the list of words you have looked up while reading. If you click on an entry, you will see a pop-up window reminding you of its meaning. The Usage tab gives you the sentence in the book where you saw the word. Ultimately, this features ensures that you remember the words you have looked up, so that you are actively building your vocabulary as you read.

Vocabulary Builder comes with a cool Flashcards option that allows you to quiz yourself on words you have looked up. You will see individual words and example sentences, and you will have to guess the definition that is on the other side of the card. It allows you to turn your German reading into an active vocabulary memorization exercise.

How to access Vocabulary Builder:

If you are new to Kindle, Vocabulary Builder can be found on the home screen, using the menu on the top right corner.

2.Read More Advanced Books with Word Wise

Reading with a Kindle is not just useful for learning individual vocabulary words. Your Kindle can also make it possible to read books that would be too challenging on paper.

This is because of Kindle’s Word Wise feature, which was designed to help readers understand challenging books. Word Wise will automatically provide simple definitions for difficult or unusual words without the reader having to tap anything. As you progress, you can choose to reduce the number of Word Wise tips.

Why is this feature good for language learners? Well, it means you have a stepping stone to a higher German comprehension level. It is like training wheels for German reading. Plus, you will get exposure to new books that would otherwise be inaccessible—maybe you will discover your new favorite German author and be motivated to keep reading and learning!

How to access Word Wise:

The Word Wise tab is accessible on the drop-down menu on the top right corner of the home screen. Click Settings, Reading Options and Language Learning, then click to turn on Word Wise. Once turned on, Word Wise will always appear in the bottom right corner while you read. You can tap on it at any point to adjust the level to your liking.

If you cannot find Word Wise on the menu, check to make sure you have the latest software version and that you are reading on one of these devices and Kindle reading apps.

3. Pair Reading and Listening Practice

As more and more Kindle books come with audiobook companions, you have a great resource to pair your reading and listening practice. Listening comprehension is often more challenging than reading, because you cannot control the speaker’s speed, and without punctuation it can be difficult to know when one sentence stops and another begins.

Besides, unlike many languages, the way German words are written is often different from the way they sound. That means if you cannot guess correctly how to spell an unfamiliar word, you will not be able to look it up in the dictionary.

Conveniently, Kindle’s Whispersync for Voice eliminates this problem. This feature is available through the Kindle app and on some Kindle tablets. You can quickly switch from audio to text and go back to look for the words that you did not understand.

Not only will this help build your vocabulary, you will also learn how new words are pronounced from the audiobook component.

How to toggle (switch) between text and audio versions of a book

On an Android Kindle app, a user can switch between two modes (i.e., Listen and Read) using the Headphone and the Book icons in the bottom left corner of any screen when reading. Note that you will need to first download the audible file by tapping on the blue download arrow when you open a Kindle book (whose audio companion you have already bought from Amazon).

For iPhone and iPad users, switching between the two can be done with the iOS Kindle app and Audible app.

Meanwhile, if you fall in love with listening to audiobooks, here is the ultimate guide to learning German with them!

4. Take Advantage of Social Learning

Reading has a reputation for being a non-social activity, but that is not always true. Have you heard of book clubs, where people meet up periodically to discuss a book that they all read?

Aside from being a fun way to meet new people, book clubs can also help you improve your German speaking and listening skills as everyone discusses the shared reading. Further, listening to the discussion can help you know how much of the book you understood and whether there were any sections you should re-read.

Luckily, the Kindle makes it possible to have this book club feel and encourage social learning right from the device. You can take advantage of the Household and Family Library feature to share books with others for group reading!

You do not have to jump right into a big book club with lots of people. You can start by sharing an e-book with just one person—maybe a good friend, or ideally, another English learning partner. Then, you can discuss difficult sections together, compare new vocabulary and help each other out with comprehension questions. As you get more comfortable, you can start reading in a more social environment like a real book club.

How to set up the Household and Family Library

Go to Settings on the top right drop-down menu, and look for the Household and Family Library option. Select it and follow the instructions. Your learning partner will need to provide his or her Amazon account details before your libraries are merged.

The Kindle is not just an e-reader; it is also a fantastic tool for learning English. Whether you are building your vocabulary, becoming a more advanced reader or just enjoying a book with a friend, this device will get your German skills growing, fast!

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